This traditional curry noodle salad is a carnival of flavours and textures; tangy, sweet and spicy, with tender pasta, balanced by crunchy veggies. No wonder it's such a constant crowd-pleaser and has stood the test of time across all these decades.
It's made in four easy steps; cook the pasta, chop the veg, mix the dressing and combine, voila! Possibly its best feature is that it can, and should, be made in advance. It's at its best the following day and even better still the day after that. Perfect for picnics, lunch boxes and the all important barbeque, or 'braai' as we call it in South Africa.
It's unclear why this dish is mainly known as a noodle salad, since it's made with pasta. It could just be down to the limited culinary terminologies used at the time it was invented. It's hugely popular in South Africa where it's known as 'Kerrie noedelslaai'.
Another great salad recipe for larger gatherings that can be made in advance is this healthy brown rice salad.
What's to love about this recipe
- The curry dressing adds a unique and bold flavour to the salad that's both spicy and sweet, always a winning combination.
- It's a filling side dish for those times when a green salad just won't do.
- This delicious curry noodle salad is easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time.
- It can be made in a big batch and served cold, removing a lot of stress out of hosting a large gathering. Alternatively, you can very easily half the recipe.
- Made from mostly store cupboard ingredients.
- Adjust the spice level to your preference.
- Vegan and vegetarian friendly pasta salad recipe.
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
Pasta - Use your favourite pasta shape. We find that shells and twisty shapes like fusilli and rotini work really well. Don't overcook the pasta as it will be sitting in a dressing overnight, absorbing more liquid.
Red bell pepper - Also known as capsicum in the US. You can also use yellow, orange or green pepper. Red pepper is the sweetest and provides the best colour.
Red onion - Can be replaced with white onion, green onion (spring onion) or shallots.
Vinegar - White vinegar is the traditional ingredient, for instance white wine vinegar. We have used Balsamic before and although it's a lovely flavour to add, be aware that it's quite sweet, so you may need to lower the amount of sugar you're adding to balance it out.
Olive oil - Can be replaced with sunflower or vegetable oil.
Granulated sugar - You can also use caster sugar.
Tabasco - We find 4-5 shakes is enough but you can add as much or as little as you want. However, rather start with too little and add more later! If you are serving this salad to a large group with people with varying tastes, it's always safer to stay on the milder side.
How to make this pasta curry salad
- Cook the pasta in salt water according to the package directions. Don't overcook it as it will continue absorbing the curry sauce it will be dressed with. Once cooked, ensure it's drained well. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Finely chop the red bell pepper and the onion.
- Mix together the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, curry powder, tabasco sauce and black pepper in a bowl.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the pasta, followed by the curry sauce. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight. Give it a stir once or twice to distribute the dressing.
- Don't overcook the pasta as it will sit in a dressing for hours, continuing to absorb liquid. Just cook it al dente and drain it well.
- When adding the sauce to the pasta, don't add it all at once. Some pastas don't expand as much as others so you might find that with some, you may need slightly less sauce.
Add some sauce, stir it through and make the call to add more, or stop. Most of the time you will probably add it all.
This salad lasts well for up to 5 days in the fridge. Honestly, it gets better by the next day and even the day after that. You can serve it fridge cold or at room temperature.
Not suitable for freezing.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley or sesame seeds.
- Add another sprinkling of black pepper.
- Can be enjoyed as a salad, a side or as a main meal. It goes really well with grilled meat, like steak, chops, roast chicken and ribs.
- Another variation to this recipe is to add tinned peaches or dried apricots to the salad.
More recipes with curry
More filling salad recipes
Yuk Sung - Chinese lettuce wraps
Panzanella Toscana salad - salad with bread
Curry noodle salad (Kerrie noedelslaai)
- 500 gram uncooked pasta - fusilli, conchiglioni (pasta shells) etc
- 1 red bell pepper - finely chopped
- 1 red onion - finely chopped
- 250 millilitre tomato sauce
- 125 millilitre white vinegar - like white wine vinegar
- 125ml olive oil - or sunflower
- 180 grams granulated sugar
- 25 millilitre mild curry powder - 5 teaspoons
- few drops Tabasco - to taste
- few grinds black pepper
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Salt to taste. Drain well and add to a large salad bowl
- Finely chop the red bell pepper and red onion
- For the dressing, mix together the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, curry powder, tabasco sauce and black pepper in a bowl. We find that 4-5 shakes of Tabasco is enough, but adjust to taste
- Add the chopped veg to the pasta and stir through
- Add the sauce to the pasta. Don't add it all at once and stop when you feel it's saucy enough. Some pasta shapes expand more than others, so you might find that you need slightly less sauce for some. 9/10 times you will probably add all the sauce
- Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight. Stir it through once or twice to distribute the sauce. Serve cold or at room temperature
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.
For food safety advice, including guidance on food allergies
Leave a Reply